America is SO good at making people feel bad about relaxing. I have not traveled much but the few places I’ve been (namely Oaxaca, Mexico and Puerto Rico – yeah, yeah, I realize this is a territory of America but c’mon, it’s really not) do not give off this same feeling. It feels the very opposite. It seems that other progressive countries value reflection and relaxation while we run around in America being as busy as possible or at least looking as busy as possible to thwart other’s negative opinions.
Three areas that I’ve experienced a need to be or look busy:
Parenting/Being an adult
Work: It’s amazing how bad I’ve felt at work for just taking a minute to myself. I may not have a higher feeling of guilt than most in this area but work is also a place where people sacrifice family and self-care in excessive amounts. What is it about that feeling that you must be striving for, multiple accolades, being the best in your role, etc. And that lingering feeling that you could always be doing more because you know of someone who is in your position that did more with it?
We all need to take a step back and compare accurately if we are going to compare. It may be that the person you want to be is the same person that worked until 9 and didn’t spend time with their family and regrets it years later. Or maybe that person’s work place environment allowed for more projects you would love to try because there were more staff to distribute their responsibilities to. This is exactly why comparison doesn’t work correctly. But imagine if we praised people for leaving work on time (which America seems to translate as leaving early) and going home and not doing anything work-related but instead spending quality time with their family, taking a walk outside, reading before bed and wearing a face mask while watching a favorite show? (Pretty much how I operate now) Although I am skilled in leaving work at work, I still carry around guilt and a false feeling of worthlessness anyway. So many people have told me that I need to go home and not think about work in which case, I tell them, “I do and have for a few years now.” Every time I say this I wonder how people take it but I also mostly don’t care what they think. However, I still always feel like I need to do more. But do I? I’m a huge advocate of celebrating progress and not just success but it’s hard for me to do that for myself. I just feel like I’m never done and although that is good motivation to continue to improve my skillset, it does not feel comfortable to not be “done” with something. I’d like to be “done” with everything so I could move on and do things for “fun.” That’s the wild thing about perspective though. I feel like if I knew I’d always have enough money to be stable then my job would then be one in which I could do under much less pressure. Even though no part of it would change.
Most of my perspective comes from observations of parents (mostly moms) in person and on social media before I had a baby. I want to stop here and thank all those that complained heavily as you set my expectations low for enjoyment thus ensuring much more joy from the experiences I’ve had with my own child. 😉
I don’t understand the feeling of having to be this godly creature of a parent that encompasses your kids to see you as perfect. You are a human being and they need to see that. I believe in making the best decisions for your kids by planning and reflecting on how you want to raise them but to all of a sudden expect every single thing to all of a sudden be magic when you know your life hasn’t been perfect up until that point is illogical to me. Yeah, we all want to be good parents but give yourself a break. If you are keeping your kid safe AND spending time with them and finding activities to do together and generally just trying to do good the whole time, there is nothing else you need to be doing. If you are doing all of that, you are already doing excessively more than most parents do unfortunately. YOU are good and you are good at this parenting job. (Oh, but if you don’t work in education, just make sure you are involved with your kids so you can learn what a school can provide them, and equally important, what they logically cannot.) That’s my one piece of advice if you haven’t thought much about school life. You don’t have to go all 100 but like try, ya know. Be interested. Teachers so appreciate it. At least I did, as I didn’t see involvement too often from parents.
As for anyone 22+ just try to pay your bills on time and have fun too. You may experience pressure to be the one who stays at work etc. because you don’t have a family to go home to and although I think this is somewhat reasonable, work hours are there for a reason. You still need to take care of yourself and get other things done at home. This is all part of responsibilities once anyone is an adult (and that’s all we couldn’t wait for as a kid! – Ha. What a scam.) At any given time, you may need to plan for and buy your mom a special birthday present, you may be trying to go to the gym every day, you may have to schedule doctor visits or you’re learning to cook, or you are going to grad school. Your goals are important too. Don’t let someone else have power over your choices and your ability to balance your life. You need to remain as stable as possible.
Gym: Every time I’m at the gym, I’m extra aware that I do not know anything about anyone’s journey. I may see a person barely lifting any weight and I feel many would think they are weak BUT what if they are just coming off an injury OR they are just starting and plan on executing longer sets with less weight? What if they are following a progressive plan that you don’t have access to see where they are going with it? You don’t know! I love the gym because it reminds me that I’m in competition with myself and no one else. Each time I go or maybe each week or every two weeks, I will increase my weight even if that means cutting down on a set just to see my capability while still completing the set with a comfortable amount of weight. It’s important for me to see that my muscles are growing, and most importantly that I’m getting stronger. I will never look like some people in the gym but they will never look like me either! Their loss, am I right?
Ultimately, the point is to strive for balance in your life and make sure you are not just trying to be busy or appear busy to others. If you want to literally come home every day and sit on the couch for a week after work because you worked out every day last week, then maybe that’s part of your balance plan. Your balance plan is what you need to feel most comfortable with yourself – not what will make others like you or see you as successful. No one ever knows someone’s whole story and most people don’t want to listen to it anyway so just pay attention to what YOUR body and mind need physically and mentally and do that. Stop feeling bad for every little thing you do or don’t do.
This life is short and as far as I’ve always been concerned it wasn’t made to be what we have made it to be in America. So enjoy your life, give yourself what you need so you can give others what they need. If that is going to the gym, eating an ice cream cone while taking a walk, laying on the couch wrapped in a blanket, doing something creative or just sitting still – just do it. Nike’s slogan still stands by the way.
Stability and balance is everything to me as an adult. I know when I’m being stretched too thin and it’s hard to see that others have more malleability in this but you have to know yourself and know it’s okay to need more of something than others or know it’s okay for you to quit something because it’s killing you when other people can handle it. Everyone has their own boundaries and that doesn’t make one person better than the other. What matters is really knowing and understanding yourself enough to make meaningful changes, owning all your qualities, and striving for balance even when others have their own expectations. You do YOU!